Mark finished third in today’s German Grand Prix, his third successive podium at the spectacular Nurburgring which hosts the event every second year, alternating with Hockenheim. Surprisingly, given the atrocious weather conditions early on race day, the 60-lap grand prix was dry throughout and F1 fans were treated to a thrilling race-long battle between Mark, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
“It must have been a good race for people watching at home,” says Mark, “but I’ve come away with mixed emotions. Third is a decent result, but I’m a bit disappointed. I’d hoped for more after starting from pole position and I gave it everything I could, but it wasn’t enough. We weren’t quick enough today.”
Hamilton beat Mark away from pole position, but he didn’t pull a gap and they had a thrilling scrap during the opening stint. On a couple of occasions Mark nearly found a way through.
“My start wasn’t too bad, but Lewis got a cracker,” says Mark. “He was leading before the braking zone for Turn 1, so there was nothing I could do to defend my position. I’d have liked to convert pole, but pole doesn’t mean as much this year as in the past. Fernando was third into Turn 1 at Silverstone and Jenson was 18th at the end of lap one in Canada, and they went on to win those races.”
Mark undercut Hamilton at the first of his three pit-stops to re-take the lead, but the pace of the top three cars was very similar and it was difficult for him to pull a gap.
“When I got into the lead I thought it was my chance to pull a gap,” says Mark. “In my efforts to do that, I used the tyres a bit too much and that hurt me at the end of the stint. My second pitstop was nearly a second slower than my first as well, and when you add those factors together I lost the lead to Lewis again.”
With the option tyre about 1.5s per lap faster than the prime, the drivers switched to the prime rubber as late as possible. Mark made his change on lap 56 of 60, by which time Hamilton had the race won. Mark crossed the line 9.7s behind the race winner.
“McLaren and Ferrari weren’t hanging around here,” says Mark. “They’ve made progress and we know what we’ve got to improve on. Now the focus switches immediately to next weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.”